Christchurch trainer Anna Furlong is a strong advocate of the Riccarton all-weather track and she'd love nothing more than to snare a winner on opening day on Thursday.
Furlong and training partner Shane Kennedy will have three runners at the Riccarton polytrack's inaugural meeting, Petty's Legacy and Feelin' Fancy in the seven-horse Two Rosses Beckett & Murdoch 1600 and Lady's Legacy in the Paradigm Civil Maiden (1200m)
Furlong has praised the development of the all-weather track, saying it has been an excellent training surface and that she was hoping it would have the same impact as a racetrack.
"I'm really looking forward to it. There are going to be horses that will definitely suit it and ones that we'll find out don't. It's just going to be a matter of let's see what happens," Furlong said.
"A lot of trials on it have been quite strung out. There have been horses that have won from the back and others have won from the front so I don't think there will be a bias but it will be interesting to see how it plays.
"As a training surface, it's amazing. We love it. It's great for the young ones; it's great for all of them really. We haven't had any issues so we're more than pleased."
A winner of four of her 14 starts, Sweynesse four-year-old mare Petty's Legacy rates as the horse to beat in the feature race, with jockey Kavish Chowdhoory retaining the ride.
"She was ridden upside down fresh-up at Riverton which wasn't ideal and with not a lot around we've had to go to the mile tomorrow," Furlong said.
"She works really well on the poly, does her fast work really well on the poly, so hopefully he can take a bit of a sit and she can find the line. She's come through Riverton all guns blazing so hopefully she can settle and get the mile."
Like all horses on Thursday, Petty's Legacy is having her first start on the polytrack but she did impress with a fast-finishing 1000m trial second placing on the surface in March behind subsequent first-up winner Chilly Filly and beating race rivals She's Recommended and Milford Sound.
"Chilly Filly has got some pretty nifty, quick feet on her so we were really happy with the way our mare found the line behind her at the trials," Furlong said.
"She'll probably go out for a spell after this then prepare for stakes racing in the spring.
"She did really well leading into the Timaru Cup (1600m, Listed race in December) and with how she ran that day (for sixth). There's no reason why she can't get black-type in the future."
Kennedy and Furlong are keen to see an improved performance from Feelin' Fancy, a winner of two of her 15 starts.
"She's on her last warning. She hasn't shown us enough in her last few starts so she really needs to pull finger tomorrow. We've just expected more. We thought we'd give her one crack on the poly and then make a decision with her after that."
In the next race Lady's Legacy will step out on debut after two comfortable winning polytrack trials which flanked an unplaced Ashburton trial.
"She's trialled up well both times on the poly. We took her to the grasstrack trials at Ashburton for experience and she didn't raise a gallop so we got her back to the poly and she loved it," Furlong said.
"Drawn 12, she's not going to be sent forward. She's going to have to learn to take a sit and she'll get good experience from whatever happens. She can be a bit on and off but she's shown good ability on what she's done so far."
While Thursday's meeting is the stable's immediate focus, Kennedy and Furlong have an opportunity to snare an even greater prize at Riccarton on Saturday, with Defiant and Kikimora set to tackle the Listed Berkley Stud Champagne Stakes (1200m) on the turf.
Defiant has won her last two starts, claiming the Ladies Bracelet (1000m) at Riccarton last start at the expense of Kikimore, who has since placed at Riverton.
"With Defiant, we were mindful of her shins after her racing on that firm track the other day and she went pretty quick but she's come through it super," Furlong said.
"She's coming to the end of her preparation, this will be her last start before she goes to the paddock, but she's in good condition. We just have to keep her happy till Saturday and hopefully she can give us one more.
"With her breeding (as a Tavistock filly out of a Savabeel mare), we're excited to get her up over a bit of ground in her three-year-old season. She's shown a bit of class so far, which is really exciting.
"We took Kikimora to Riverton and it was a horrific trip for her. She didn't really hit out down there. We brought her home and couldn't find anything wrong with her, couldn't find a reason not to push on, so she'll go to Saturday then go out for a spell as well. She seems a happy horse."